Veteran NFL coach Jon Gruden isn’t denying growing rumors that he could be back on his way to the NFL as a coach once more of the Oakland Raiders.
“I don’t want to sit here and speculate,” Gruden told the Bay Area News Group not long after an ESPN report linked him to the Raiders.
“There is no news to report,” Gruden added. “I can’t say I haven’t taken any phone calls. I take a lot every year from coaches, some others…. Yeah, sometimes owners. Guys want to bounce ideas off me. I’m here to help people.”
Gruden shares the same agent as current Raiders’ coach Jack Del Rio, making the team’s rumored recruitment of him all the more awkward for the two longtime NFL veterans.
For Gruden, who last coached in Oakland 16 seasons ago, being linked to teams that might have interest in him has become pretty much an annual occurrence.
When questioned by reporters about the team’s reported interest in Gruden after the ESPN story first broke, owner Mark Davis declined to comment.
Going into Sunday’s season finale, the Raiders had struggled to a 6-9 showing.
In an effort to entice Gruden form his ESPN analyst job, reports are the Raiders have offered him a stake in ownership. The Raiders have previously tried luring Gruden back, but rarely have things seemed to so align.
Beyond the ownership caveat, the chance to work young and emerging quarterback Derek Carr could also prove to be quite the attraction to Gruden. The Raiders are also slated to move to Las Vegas in 2020, where there is no state income tax.
ESPN has reported Gruden recently spent time calling around NFL circles, talking with coaches who could serve as assistants on his staff.
The 54-year-old Gruden became the youngest coach in NFL history to win a Super Bowl in 2003 when he led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the Raiders, who have traded him to the Bucs the season before for two first-round draft picks.
Gruden was just 39 years-old when he led the Bucs to their Super Bowl win. During his four seasons in Oakland, he posted an overall record of 40-28.